Remedy for spotted roses 
Daksha Hathi

Why we should use non-toxic pest repellants

Pesticides poison over one million human beings each year; 20,000 of the poisonings are fatal. Before World War II only seven species of insects were known to be resistant to chemical pesticides. Now over six hundred species of plant and animal pests are known to be resistant because of over exposure to pesticides.

A 1987 National Cancer Institute study in the US showed that in households where home or garden pesticides are used, children are up to six times more likely to develop leukemia than are children in non-pesticide homes. The tragedy is that all the US pesticides are now available in India.

Keep other plants at a distance of two feet or more from your rose
Keep other plants at a distance of two feet or more from your rose

When pests are eating up the lovely pink rose in your garden, you may immediately rush for the chemical pest-killer. But did you know that there are more than a 100 hilarious and enjoyable non-toxic ways to save your plants? They will teach you to make friends with simple household remedies.

Here is a very interesting remedy for removing black spot from your roses that has been tried and tested and based on research by R. K. Horst, Professor of plant pathology at Cornell University. A 0.5 per cent solution of baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) and water (three teaspoons baking soda per gallon of water) sprayed on roses is a good remedy for tackling black spot and powdery mildew.

The safest ways to protect your roses from pests are also the simplest ones. First of all you should plant them in well-drained soil, where they get proper sunlight and enough water. Plant roses in holes that are six inches deep and 12 inches in diameter. Make sure there is a lot of room, at least two feet between individual roses. Also keep other plants at a distance of two feet or more from your rose.

Most people don’t know that garlic can be the best friend for your roses. Growing garlic around them will protect them from pests. Handpicking the pests is also another good option for organic gardeners. You must remove and destroy leaves attacked by aphids to reduce their recurring. Another simple and safe method is to use a strong spray of pressurised water to knock aphids off the roses. Try out yellow sticky traps and cover young rose bushes with netting to protect them. Learn to use companion plants (plants that help to keep pests away) like garlic, coriander and petunias around your roses.

If spider mites attack roses (they suck moisture from the plant) and suffocate it in a web, there is an easy remedy for this. Just wash the mites off your plant with a strong spray of water. Grow garlic and onions around the plant. Garlic is not just good for your sambar and rasam. Plant garlic around strawberries and watch it repel insect pests. One clove or garlic planted near your roses will repel aphids and greenflies. Besides making your sambhar tasty, garlic also exudes sulphur, which will kill black spot fungus.

There is also an insecticidal garlic spray that you can make and keep for use whenever you need it. It will be much cheaper than chemical sprays. Soak 3 ounces finely minced garlic in 2 teaspoons mineral oil for 24 hours. Slowly add 1 pint water that has been mixed with one fourth ounce insecticidal soap. Stir thoroughly and strain into a glass jar for storage. You can use one to two tablespoons per pint of water for spraying on roses, dahlias, hollyhocks or any other plants infested with pests.

Sometimes this strong spray may cause leaf damage, then dilute the solution a little.

If you love egg pulao, egg biryani, cakes and omelettes you are lucky, because eggshells can be your best friends in the garden. If you collect all your eggshells after having made your favourite egg dishes, crush them and put a thin layer of them around your plant stems. Then cover the eggshells with soil. You will have two benefits—eggshells will give calcium to your soil and they will repel root maggots and cutworms. Eggshells are sharp and soft little insects will find it uncomfortable to crawl through them. A book that every rose lover and gardener must read is: Roses Love Garlic Secrets of Companion Planting with Flowers by Louise Riotte. Garden Way Publishing, Charlotte, Vermont 05445. After reading it you will never feel the need to use harmful pesticides in your garden.